what is pct

What is PCT (Post Cycle Therapy)? A Complete Guide for Beginners

Last updated on January 4th, 2024 at 05:44 am

Post cycle therapy, commonly known as PCT, refers to the process of helping the body recover its natural hormonal balance after completing a cycle of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) like anabolic steroids or SARMs. It is an essential part of any steroid or SARMs cycle.

What Happens During PCT?

The goal of PCT is to get the body to start naturally producing hormones like testosterone again after they have been suppressed during the cycle.

When taking compounds like testosterone or other androgenic steroids/SARMS, the body recognizes there is enough testosterone (or similar compounds) in the system and stops producing its own.

This causes testosterone levels to crash once the cycle ends if no PCT is implemented. Estrogen levels also become imbalanced.

PCT helps:

  • Restart natural testosterone production
  • Normalize estrogen levels
  • Retain muscle gains from the cycle
  • Boost energy levels that may have dropped after the cycle
  • Reduce side effects like acne or mood swings

By implementing a proper PCT protocol, you can avoid losing the gains and progress you made during your cycle.

When To Start PCT

PCT should begin immediately after ending your cycle. Most steroid/SARM cycle protocols recommend continuing into PCT for around 4 weeks after your last dose.

The timing depends on the compounds used in the cycle.

For example, with a SARMs stack, PCT can typically start 1-2 weeks after your last SARMs dose. For short estered steroids like testosterone propionate, PCT may start within 2-3 days.

With long-estered compounds like deca durabolin or testosterone cypionate, you may need to wait 2 weeks before beginning PCT to allow the compounds to clear your system.

Starting PCT quickly is crucial – you want to restart natural hormone production as soon as possible so you don’t lose muscle and strength gains after ending your cycle.

what is pct

PCT Protocols

A proper PCT protocol combines several different compounds that help restart the body’s natural hormone production.

The most common PCT drugs used are:

SERMs

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) like Nolvadex, Clomid, and Toremifene are considered the foundation of any PCT protocol.

They help block the effect of estrogen on the body, which tricks the pituitary gland into producing more testosterone and sperm production.

Common dosages are:

  • Nolvadex: 20-40mg per day
  • Clomid: 25-50mg per day
  • Toremifene: 60-120mg per day

SERMs are typically taken for the first 2-3 weeks of PCT. Please consult your Doctor for any dosage to take.

Aromatase Inhibitors

Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) like Arimidex help stop testosterone from converting into excess estrogen.

This helps normalize estrogen levels that may have spiked on the cycle. Aromatase inhibitor dosages in PCT typically are:

  • Arimidex: 0.5-1mg every other day
  • Aromasin: 12.5-25mg every day

AIs are commonly used at the beginning of PCT right when starting SERMs and tapered off before the end.

HCG

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) mimics luteinizing hormone and helps stimulate natural testosterone production.

It’s used at the tail end of a cycle to prime the body for PCT. A typical HCG protocol is 500-1000 IU every other day for 2-3 weeks pre-PCT. It is then stopped when SERM/AI administration begins.

Cycle Support Supplements

Additional supplements can further support the body’s natural hormone recovery during PCT. These include:

  • D-Aspartic Acid – Stimulates production of key hormones like luteinizing hormone.
  • Zinc & Vitamin D – Shown to optimize testosterone levels.
  • Ashwagandha – Adaptogenic herb to lower cortisol and support testosterone.
  • Diindolylmethane (DIM) – Helps metabolize excess estrogen.

Sample PCT Protocol

Here is an example PCT plan after ending a 12-week testosterone cycle:

  • Week 12: (last week of cycle): Start HCG at 1000 IU every other day
  • Week 13: Last testosterone enanthate injection. Continue HCG.
  • Week 14: Discontinue HCG. Begin 20mg of Nolvadex + 0.5mg of Arimidex daily.
  • Week 15: Continue Nolvadex 20mg + Arimidex 0.25mg daily.
  • Week 16: Continue Nolvadex 20mg daily. Discontinue Arimidex.
  • Week 17: Discontinue Nolvadex. Resume cycle support supplements.
  • Week 18: Resume training and nutrition protocol.

This allows testosterone levels to normalize without losing gains. Tapering the dosages minimizes side effects from sudden hormonal changes.

Always follow dosage recommendations closely and adjust based on bloodwork if possible. Everyone responds slightly differently to PCT compounds.

How to Know if Your PCT is Working

To assess if your PCT protocol is successful, pay attention to the following:

  • Energy levels – If low energy persists, testosterone may still be low.
  • Libido – Sex drive typically rebounds within 1-2 weeks of starting PCT when testosterone normalizes.
  • Mood – Irritability, depression, or lack of motivation can mean hormone balance needs more time to improve.
  • Strength & Endurance – If gym performance sharply decreases, PCT may not be optimal.
  • Side Effects – Persistent acne, puffy nipples, or excess water retention indicates elevated estrogen.
  • Blood Work – Labs provide definitive hormone status – get blood done 4 weeks after PCT.

If progress seems slow, adjust dosages, cycle support supplements, or extend the PCT period as required. Maintaining training and diet also helps recovery.

With an intelligent PCT protocol, you can retain the muscle, strength, and leanness from anabolic cycles. Plan PCT from the outset for best results.

Mistakes to Avoid with Post-Cycle Therapy

Implementing PCT properly is crucial – several incorrect approaches can negatively impact your results and health:

Starting Too Late

Delaying PCT gives your body more time in a low hormone state – testosterone levels may plummet and be harder to recover. Loss of muscle, strength, and energy is more likely.

Begin PCT as soon as the cycle ends. Have your SERM, AI, and HCG ready to go.

Inadequate Dosing

Using too little of PCT compounds can fail to normalize hormones effectively. Stick to recommended dosage guidelines for your Nolvadex, Clomid, Aromasin, etc.

Get bloodwork done if you are uncertain about what your body needs. Starting doses too high can also cause side effects.

Using Ineffective Compounds

Some over-the-counter supplements like DHEA or Tribulus Terrestris may claim to increase testosterone but are extremely weak compared to pharmaceutical PCT drugs.

Make sure your PCT includes proven SERMs, AIs and HCG at proper dosages. Don’t rely on legal prohormones or herbal pills alone for PCT.

Ending Too Early

Stopping PCT before your hormones have rebalanced can undermine the whole process. Use blood tests to confirm testosterone, estrogen, and LH/FSH have normalized before ending.

Most will need 4 weeks total – extend this if needed based on bloodwork, energy, and strength.

Controlling Estrogen Too Aggressively

Pushing estrogen too low by overusing aromatase inhibitors can also impact hormone recovery. Some estrogen is needed for muscular and sexual health.

Use the lowest effective AI dose and monitor side effects like low libido, joint pain, and low energy. Adjust dosages downward if these occur.

With proper precautions, an informed PCT routine lets you keep far more of your gains from any steroid or SARMs cycle. Don’t skip this step.

Testicle Health and Fertility

  • Tongkat Ali – Shown to increase sperm production and testosterone
  • Tribulus Terrestris – May support testosterone via LH stimulation
  • Mucuna Pruriens – Contains L-Dopa to spur testosterone synthesis
  • Zinc – Increases both testosterone levels and semen volume

While not as potent, these natural compounds offer a much safer long-term alternative to maintain hormone balance post-cycle. They avoid side effects and legal issues inherent to pharmaceutical PCT.

Conclusion

Implementing an intelligent PCT routine after any steroid or SARM cycle is crucial. It helps you maintain the gains and progress made during the cycle.

PCT works by jump-starting your natural hormone production after it has been suppressed while on cycle. This avoids muscle loss, low T symptoms, and more.

A combination of SERMs, aromatase inhibitors, and HCG primes the endocrine system for recovery. Supportive supplements further aid the process.

With a proper 4-week protocol, training, and nutrition, you can retain your new muscularity and strength. Always plan PCT beforehand and have compounds ready for the end of the cycle. The effort is well worth it.

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